ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA:
My final two days in St. Petersburg and I felt more like being a tourist than working. St. Petersburg is an incredibly beautiful city and will do that to you.
However, I did have time to check out a couple of bands. One, Elektra Monsterz was recommended by Denis, a cat I was trying to interview for another band, PTWP, that never worked out.
Denis met me at the train station where we later met one of the members of Elektra Monsterz, a young guy with long, straight hair. After making a stop for some hookah tobacco we headed over to the Electra Monster lair, an abandoned factory that was being rented out to bands for rehearsal space and immigrant workers living in St. Petersburg.
The other two guys from Elektra Monsterz also wore their hair long which begged the question in the interview if they were ever harassed, to which they replied that yes, sometime the police sometimes harassed them simply for their hair. No surprises there. That would probably happen in many areas of the U.S. too.
After smoking some tobacco from the hookah and a nice little tour of the abandoned factory, I was able to hear Elektra Monsterz play. I knew these guys weren’t really a punk band during the interview, but when they played I was a little surprised to hear how well they played, especially given their obvious youth.
Turns out the guys had been in New York City (Brooklyn) this past summer and had purchased some really good equipment here. And while the rehearsal space wasn’t set up for hearing vocals, the instrumentals they played for me were pretty kick ass live. Here’s a little taste for you.
RUSSIANS PLAYING CALIFORNIA SURF IN SPANISH? IN WIGS?
My final day in St. Petersburg, Sergi, (remember him, he sat in on a set with the Barbulators and acted as a translator for me during the interview a few days before), invited me to rehearsal of his side project band “Freddie and the Drillers”. Sergi and I originally hooked up online when I was trying to get an interview with the St. Petersburg ska band “Spitfire” as he actually handles their website and myspace profile.
While “Spitfire” was out of town on tour during my trip in (story of my life), Sergi graciously offered to show me around town and introduce me to some people in the punk and rockabilly scene.
Sergi is a really great guy and looks the part of his computer programming day job. But don’t let his non punk look fool you, once you notice his shoes you can tell he’s not your average computer geek. He’s really into punk and rockabilly music. And if the shoe’s don’t convince you well conversing with him will. Sergi knows his punk history.
He’s also an avid guitar collector and player and his alter ego is Freddie in his band Freddie and the Drillers.
Freddie says the band is really just getting started playing on the scene in St. Petersburg with one or two live gigs a month, but they seemed pretty dedicated at rehearsal and they were breaking in a new, but very talented drummer while I was there.
They rehearse in an old building that was in the midst of some serious refurbishment but with an incredible view of the city.
Sergi, I mean Freddie, explained the costumes and wigs by saying he wanted the band to stand out in the music scene in St. Petersburg and give people an experience they could have fun with.
He also acknowledged that he felt it would be silly for a bunch of pale, hairy guys from the tundra climate of Russia to don the standard Bermuda shorts and Hawwain shirts. You know what, I have to agree. Nothing worse than overly hairy legs and extremely pale body parts to get you out of the mood for some California surf music.
The other interesting thing about Freddie and the Drillers is that their lyrics, sparse as they are, are in Spanish and sometimes even Japanese. Let me get this straight. There is a Russian band playing California surf music with Spanish or Japanese Lyrics? Da! Da! Da! (Yes, Yes, Yes). Now that is something worth seeing.
Here is a short clip of Freddie and the Drillers performing “La Curva Pelicgrosa” (Dangerous Curves). Thanks for the hospitality Freddie, I mean Sergi, and please keep up the good work and yes, whatever you do, keep the wigs!